Sustainability is at the forefront of a growing number of property builds and renovations, as more people strive to live in an environmentally conscious way. The demand for eco-homes is growing exponentially, but there are also some simple ways to reduce environmental impact in your current property.
Throughout the home
Install solar panels to provide your home with a clean and low cost energy source. In some areas, solar panels will generate more power than the average household uses, in which case energy companies will buy back the additional energy. They also store excess power in a battery, meaning that even on overcast days, solar panels can provide a hot water supply. To reduce the energy your home uses, replace your lightbulbs with energy efficient versions; LED bulbs are the best. Although initially more expensive, they last around 25 times as long as incandescent bulbs and are 75-80 per cent more efficient.
In the kitchen
Ensure that your plastics, glass and cardboard are separated for recycling. If you have plants, put a small container on your kitchen counter for food scraps and vegetable peelings, which will be composted later. Using environmentally friendly washing-up liquid can help protect the world’s waterways. Finally, upgrading your old appliances is the best way to ensure that all your kitchen equipment adheres to the highest standards in energy saving. Refrigerators, for example, use a lot of energy, and a ten-year-old model could be using twice the energy of a modern A-rated refrigerator. If you’re refitting the room, use recycled glass and stainless steel, which is typically made from 70 per cent recycled materials.
In the bathroom
Purchase eco-friendly hair and body-wash products, particularly avoiding products with plastic exfoliating beads, as these are extremely perilous for marine life. Also try to use eco-friendly bathroom cleaners, and fit water saving devices to your bathroom taps and showerhead. The results will feel just as strong as an ordinary shower but save you approximately half the water, using a pulsing action rather than aerating the flow.
In the garden
Building a compost heap will reduce the amount of food and garden waste going to landfill. It will also enrich your soil, keeping your plants healthy without the need for chemical treatments, which strip nutrients from the ground. Another good idea for the soil and wider ecosystem is to avoid using chemical pesticides. Instead, use natural pest control methods like nematodes (small, translucent worms), which will deal with unruly caterpillar, weevil and ant populations. An effective way to deter slugs and snails is to place copper tape around your pots, which can also make an attractive design feature. Setting up bird feeders will encourage birds, which eat bugs, to visit your garden, while bird baths can have a similar effect and come in several aesthetically pleasing designs.
If you are considering moving to a purpose built or renovated ecological property, Engel & Völkers can assist you in your search. Visit your nearest Engel & Völkers store to speak to a real estate expert with extensive local knowledge.